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High-power Mg batteries enabled by heterogeneous enolization redox chemistry and weakly coordinating electrolytes


Magnesium batteries have long been pursued as potentially low-cost, high-energy and safe alternatives to Li-ion batteries. However, Mg2+ interacts strongly with electrolyte solutions and cathode materials, leading to sluggish ion dissociation and diffusion, and consequently low power output. Here we report a heterogeneous enolization chemistry involving carbonyl reduction (C=O↔C–O), which bypasses the dissociation and diffusion difficulties, enabling fast and reversible redox processes. This kinetically favoured cathode is coupled with a tailored, weakly coordinating boron cluster-based electrolyte that allows for dendrite-free Mg plating/stripping at a current density of 20 mA cm−2. The combination affords a Mg battery that delivers a specific power of up to 30.4 kW kg−1, nearly two orders of magnitude higher than that of state-of-the-art Mg batteries. The cathode and electrolyte chemistries elucidated here propel the development of magnesium batteries and would accelerate the adoption of this low-cost and safe battery technology.

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Fig. 1: Proposed cathode heterogeneous enolization redox chemistry.
Fig. 2: Practicality of heterogeneous enolization redox chemistry on cycling stability and anode reversibility.
Fig. 3: Design process and electrochemical performance of MMC/(DME-G2) electrolyte.
Fig. 4: Electrochemical behaviour of Mg–PTO full cells in 0.5 mol kg−1 MMC/(DME-G2) electrolyte.

Data availability

The authors declare that the data supporting the findings of this study are available within the article and its Supplementary Information files.


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Y.Y. acknowledges the support of University of Houston. R.M. and O.T. acknowledge the funding provided from Toyota Motor Corporation. This research used resources of the Advanced Light Source, which is a DOE Office of Science User Facility under contract no. DE-AC02-05CH11231. We acknowledge K. Suto, Y. Kotani, F. Mizuno, T. Matsunaga and H. Aso from Toyota Motor Corporation and K. Takechi from Toyota Central R&D, N. Singh, T. A. Arthur, R. Sugiura, P. Fanson and T. Inoue at Toyota Research Institute of North America for support and discussion.

Author information




H.D., O.T., Y.L., R.M. and Y.Y. conceived and designed the experiments. O.T. and R.M. synthesized the electrolytes. H.D. synthesized and fabricated organic electrodes. H.D., O.T. and Y.Z. performed electrochemical and materials characterizations. H.D. and Y.Z. prepared GO membranes. W.Y. and Z.L.-H. performed soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy measurements. H.D., O.T., Y.L., R.M. and Y.Y. wrote the manuscript. R.M. and Y.Y. supervised the project.

Corresponding authors

Correspondence to Rana Mohtadi or Yan Yao.

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Competing interests

R.M. is inventor on US Patent 9240613 and O.T. and R.M. are inventors on US Patents 9252458 and 20180151917, which are assigned to Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America, Inc. Y.Y., H.D. and Y.L. are inventors on US Patent 63043240. O.T. and R.M. are employees of Toyota Research Institute of North America, the research division at Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing North America (TEMA), Inc.

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Peer review information Nature Energy thanks Vinayan Bhaghavathi Parambath, Niya Sa and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Methods, Tables 1–3, Figs. 1–14 and Notes.

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Dong, H., Tutusaus, O., Liang, Y. et al. High-power Mg batteries enabled by heterogeneous enolization redox chemistry and weakly coordinating electrolytes. Nat Energy 5, 1043–1050 (2020).

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